opinion: Charter amendment for park land use would let residents have voice in its protection
Since I could not get on the list for citizen comments (on July 16), here's what I would have said: I applaud the initiative of Council members to put this proposal on the ballot in November and I look for your vote of approval.
The intent of acquiring park land is for our needs now and in the future. As we see development and expansion plans occurring within our city and university, it is even more critical to have THE best protection we can for our park land whether acquired in the past or newly acquired.
This ballot proposal speaks to this issue: specifically to protect repurposing of park land by a council alone. Council has not had the will to protect our park land from non-park uses. When the voters approved the Charter Amendment Requiring Voter Approval of the Sale of City-Owned Land Acquired for or used as park land, no one thought that re-purposing and reassigning usage would be an issue.
It has been the activities and actions of Council that has brought the need for this ballot initiative to our attention. I am proud of our Council members who recognize that the intent of The City Charter Amendment of 2008 was to protect parks but that many activities like long-term leasing and reassigning usage have not lived up to that intent and thus all of our parks deeded or acquired by our millages are vulnerable to decisions made by a small number of people.
This is a small loophole to correct but has huge implications for our future. Although several City Council members find this unnecessary, the activities of Council show that the intent of the 2008 Charter Amendment has not been upheld. Any delay means Council is not on the side of recognizing that their activities have found a way around the 2008 Amendment so they can reassign usage of our parks at will.
I am certain the voters will recognize this need. I can only assume that any member of Council would like to be on the side of protecting park land and would be eager to fix this loophole.
Now is the time for the City Council to let the voters decide if they want their parks to be “re-purposed” for other uses.